Discriminating minorities

Christians of Sheikhupra have required the government to protect them from religious militants and extremists who have threatened them to repeat the incidents like that of Gojra if they held their annual religious convention. This threat obviously perturbed the entire people of Pakistan and minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti has also sought security for this religious minority which he belongs to. The minister also talked of moving a bill to the National Assembly to ensure protection of religious minorities. The minister may have forgotten the fact that religious intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religion remain the root causes of sectarian and communal conflict and resultant violence because this was inscribed in the 1973 Constitution and a host of other laws by dictator Ziaul Haq between 1979 and 1988 and thus drastically changed the philosophy of the country's basic law giving the bigoted elements a free hand to victimize minorities to the extent of extermination. When the constitution itself has anomalies, a bill is by no means an answer; the only remedy is the repeal all the constitutional amendments and discriminatory laws introduced by the 11-year black rule of the dictator through a constitutional amendment bill and if it is incorporated in the 17th amendment, it will save time and make thiongs easier for all. Gen Zia amended the Constitution as many as seven times in nine of 11-year regime and inserted such provisos as to come clearly in conflict with the basic law as adopted on August 14, 1973. He started with giving a parallel judiciary in 1979 and ended up with the Ninth Amendment to Constitution in 1985 changing the preamble of the Constitution. In between, Ziaul Haq introduced the Enforcement of Shariah Ordinance and changed blasphemy laws to transform Pakistan into a theological state which Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had strictly forbidden in his inaugural speech to the first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. These changes gave eminence to sectarian thought and paved way for semi-literate clergymen to rise to the status of judges and 'muftis' (religious scholars authorized to issue decrees) in the superior judiciary. The paradox that followed is that all the four 'civilian governments' and the so-called enlightened democracy of Gen Pervez Musharraf failed to make a review of the Zia regime's constitutional amendments. Even former prime minister and the PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, who has repeatedly talked about the Charter of Democracy, repealing Article 58 2 (B) and the trial of Gen Pervez Musharraf's for high treason, has not so far considered Zia's laws worthy for review. He even did not hold Gen Zia responsible for the social, constitutional and legal evil although Musharraf did exactly the same as Zia like enforcing emergency, bringing about a provisional constitution order and subjecting judges to take oath afresh. Now that bigoted 'mullahs' have mounted a fresh offensive against minorities, the government and all other conscientious segments of society must plead that all changes made by the Zia regime in the constitution and other laws, should be reviewed by experts and subsequently repealed for their inconsistency with the original 1973. Likewise, if Musharraf is made to stand trial for breaching Article 6 of the Constitution, the period of Gen Ziaul Haq must also be reviewed and judicial stricture passed against him as well.
Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ed&nid=157&ad=19-08-200
Dated: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, Sha'ban 27, 1430 A.H.

No comments: